Thursday, November 8, 2012

Autocar Online - News

Autocar Online - News

Jaguar to offer manual gearboxes

Posted: 08 Nov 2012 04:12 AM PST

The Jaguar F-type is the front runner to receive Jaguar's forthcoming manual gearboxes.

Jaguar is planning to reintroduce manual gearboxes, but not for at least 12 months.

Adrian Hallmark, global brand director for the firm, says that the company recognises the "cost and fun" benefits of manual gearboxes. As a result, they are most likely to be launched on the forthcoming F-type two-seat sports car, but they could also be engineered for saloons such as the XF.

"Sports cars need a manual transmission for sports credibility," said Hallmark. However, he said he "can't imagine" a manual XJ, and "the XF is the biggest format we could move to for a manual". Hallmark said Jaguar is investigating manual gearboxes with a "minimum of six speeds". 

He also confirmed that Jaguar and Land Rover will use the next-generation of ZF's class-leading automatic gearbox, which features nine speeds in place of eight.

First drive review: 2013 Seat Leon 1.4 TSI

Posted: 08 Nov 2012 12:43 AM PST

The Seat Leon sits on the same MQB structure as the VW Golf and Audi A3; if you like the styling, it could well be the pick of this high quality bunch The third-generation Seat Leon – as revealed for the first time at the Paris motor show back in September.Sister car to the latest Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf, with which it shares up to 55 per cent of its structural, mechanical and electrical components, the distinctively styled hatchback is the third car to use the Volkswagen Group's highly flexible MQB (modular transverse architecture) platform together with a range of new and/or improved four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.Styling wise, the new car builds on the highly technical theme already established on the Ibiza and also reflected in the appearance of the striking IBE, IBL and IBX concept cars. The sharp-edged look aims to appeal to a younger buyer audience than either the A3 or Golf. Love it or hate it, there's no denying it is anything but distinctive.As well as debuting Seat's subtly altered corporate S badge on its grille and tailgate, the Leon is also the first car in its class to be offered with full LED headlamps – a feature set to become an identifying feature on all future Seat models, according to Matthias Rabe, head of the company's research and development operations.First drive review: 2013 Seat Leon FR TDIAt 4263mm in length, 1816mm in width and 1459mm in height, the new Leon is 52mm shorter, 48mm wider and 4mm higher than the outgoing model. The wheelbase also grows by 58mm to 2636mm to improve internal packaging and overall accommodation.The adoption of the MQB platform provides valuable weight savings, with a seven fold increase in the amount of hot-formed high strength steel used within the body structure and other measures, bringing reductions of up to 90kg on a model-for-model basis.As part of Seat's efforts to broaden its appeal, the new Leon will be offered with a wider range of transversely mounted four-cylinder engines than before. Included in the initial line-up are five turbocharged direct-injection petrol and four turbocharged common rail diesels, although not all will be available in the UK from the outset.Here we're driving the 1.4-litre petrol with 138bhp. All but the base petrol and diesel engines in the range receive a stop-start function and brake energy recuperation as standard. As with all but the more powerful diesels, this third-generation Leon has MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension.Higher specification FR models also receive Seat Drive Profile, a system that allows the driver to alter the characteristics of the electro-mechanical steering, throttle mapping and engine sound in three modes – eco, normal and sport.  

First drive review: 2013 Seat Leon FR 2.0 TDI

Posted: 08 Nov 2012 12:33 AM PST

New Seat Leon shines as a potent diesel hot hatch The fastest and most powerful model in the new Seat Leon line-up. But, as you've probably worked out from the name of the car, the most potent Leon in the initial new third-generation range – the FR 2.0 TDI – gets its go from the black pump.We've got used to the idea of front-drive diesel hot hatches with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTD and Skoda Octavia vRS, and indeed the previous Leon FR TDI, but none have ever really set the heart racing in the way a high-revving petrol hot hatch does, as pleasing as the blend of performance and economy can be.The new Leon FR 2.0 TDI, on paper, boasts a set of numbers and spec that could change that. Power comes from a 2.0-litre turbodiesel unit with 181bhp and 280lb ft (13bhp and 22lb ft more than a Golf GTD Mk6), which gives the diesel FR a 0-62mph time of 7.5sec and a 142mph top speed. The 0-62mph performance is a match for the most potent petrol Leon in the launch line-up, the 178bhp 1.8 TSI, but top speed is up 2mph on that car.First drive review: 2013 Seat Leon 1.4 TSIAnd that performance comes not at the expense of economy: the oil-burning Leon hot hatch can return a claimed 65.7mpg on the combined cycle and has CO2 emissions of 112g/km.Also of note is the fact Seat has got its hands on this new 2.0 TDI engine first; part of the new line-up for the vast MQB family of VW Group cars planned over the next few years, it is due to find a home next in the new VW Golf and Audi A3.

Seat Leon hot hatch and eco model details revealed

Posted: 07 Nov 2012 01:19 PM PST

Seat Leon Cupra to go on sale in 2014, while Seat Leon Ecomotive will hit 89g/km of CO2

The new Seat Leon Cupra hot hatch will be launched by early 2014, senior company officials have confirmed. At the other end of the line-up, there will also be a new super-frugal Ecomotive model with sub 89g/km CO2 emissions. 

Speaking to Autocar on the launch of the new third-generation Leon five-door, design chief Alejandro Mesonero said the new Cupra line-up would encompass all three of the new Leon's bodystyles: the SC three-door, the five-door hatchback and the ST estate.

The standard three-door model is due to be revealed at the Geneva motor show in March 2013, and the estate at Frankfurt in September 2013. The Cupra models are expected to be shown in late 2013 or early 2014, R&D chief Matthias Rabe confirmed.

Mesonero said the styling of the new Seat Leon Cupra was already complete, describing it as "stunning". Expect alloys of 18in in size, a lower ride height and a bodykit for each of the three Leon Cupra models, plus bespoke flourishes such as different finishes for the front grille and other exterior and interior trim additions. 

In terms of dynamics, Rabe said the new Cupra would likely match the performance of the current Cupra R. However, it's likely to be down on power on the current 261bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre Cupra R, producing around 240bhp from a 2.0-litre turbo engine. Even so, the new Cupra's lighter weight should mean it matches the more powerful model for performance.

Rabe, who has already driven test mules of the car, said the longer wheelbase and wider tracks of the new Leon made the new Cupra an even more dynamic proposition than the existing Cupra R. "The new Cupra is already more than a current Cupra R," he said.

Both Rabe and Mesonero played down the potential launch for a Cupra R successor in the short-medium term, but sources have previously indicated a version of the new Leon is in the product plan.

Rabe also confirmed the new Seat Leon Ecomotive would have "less than 89g/km CO2 emissions". It's likely to match or come close to matching the new 85g/km, 88.3mpg VW Golf BlueMotion that's launching in the middle of next year.

Mesonero said there were no real styling changes for the Ecomotive. Instead, modifications from the standard car will be restricted to technical updates such as low rolling resistance tyres and optimised aerodynamics. 

The decision to expand the Leon line-up to three models has been made so the five-door model no longer has to perform the split roles of sporty hatch and family transport; the hidden door handles of the five-door, for instance, have been canned as Seat says it no longer has to hide the car's family hatchback intentions.

Seat 'is at a turning point'

Posted: 07 Nov 2012 01:11 PM PST

Marketing boss says the launch of the new Seat Leon is the chance for the Spanish brand to prove itself

The launch of the new Seat Leon marks a turning point for the firm, according to its marketing chief Christian Stein.

The new Leon is seen as critical to Seat's chances of emerging from years of losses, with Stein describing it as "a chance to reinvent ourselves. This is a turning point for us".

Stein said the look of the new Leon was "the ultimate expression for the Seat brand", adding that its new look would have a halo effect on the rest of the firm's models.

"The look and feel of Seat is changing," he said. "We can offer both a rational and an emotional purchase. We're Latin flair with German engineering". None of Seat's chief rivals from France or Italy were able to make such a claim, Stein added.

"It's because of this we can sustain our place in the VW Group and in the marketplace," said Stein. "We have a strong product strategy and aggressive market expansion planned."

The new five-door Leon will be joined by a three-door hatchback and an estate version to create a three-strong model line-up. "This will allow us to cover more of the market and appeal to more customers," he explained, noting that the firm had already done a similar thing with the Ibiza range.

Seat now has an increasing presence in fast-growing markets Russia and China, and has spotted expansion opportunities in other markets where it is outperforming rivals. These include Mexico, Algeria, Israel and Turkey.

In Germany Seat is the second fastest growing car brand, something Stein believes is down to people now knowing there is VW Group technology behind the bolder designs. 

Ferrari reveals record sales figures

Posted: 07 Nov 2012 09:21 AM PST

Demand for Ferrari products continues to rise despite poor global economic climate

Ferrari has announced record sales and profits for the first nine months of 2012. It delivered 5267 cars, up six per cent on last year and trading profits jumped to £185m, up some 9.6 per cent. Ferrari's total revenues were £1.41bn, up 10 per cent.

The US is still the company's biggest market, taking 1354 cars in the first nine months. Greater China took 566 cars, Germany bought 534 cars and the UK 504 cars. Sales were up 37 per cent in the UK, 20 per cent in Japan, 16 per cent in the US and 9 per cent in Germany.

Sales in Italy dropped to 238 cars, down 49 per cent in the aftermath of a crackdown by Italy's revenue service, which is targeting supercar owners by cross-checking their income tax records.

Commenting on the positive sales performance, Chairman Luca di Montezemolo said 'once again the exception is Italy where we have witnessed a drop partly due to the economic crisis, but also to a hostile environment for luxury goods which have long been, and continue to be, an important resource for the country.'

Ferrari also announced that Eddie Cue, Apple's senior vice president for internet and software services, who has been at Apple for 23 years and oversees iTunes, has joined the Ferrari board.

Want to beat the banks at their own game with cars?

Posted: 07 Nov 2012 07:11 AM PST

Then click on and, well, see what you think...

Before we go any further, let's be crystal clear about one thing. I am in no shape or form involved with

Instead I merely heard the name, thought it sounded intriguing, clicked on the website and started reading – and listening to the nice marketing man who pops up and begins his spiel, somewhat infuriatingly, each time you revisit the home page.

Anyway, having watched the video and read the various explanations about the scheme, I did some sums. And the numbers that started appearing on my calculator looked – inevitably you may well scream – almost too good to be true.

Bottom line; for an investment of £13,500, buy2letcars is claiming to guarantee you a monthly income of £250 for 36 months, plus an agreed buy back figure of £8955 once those 36 months are over. Which in theory means that, assuming buy2letcars honours its legal obligations to do what it is claiming to do, you end up with a total of £17,955, having invested just £13,500. Which is a return of 33 per cent. Which is somewhat better than any bank, bond or ISA can offer at the moment, you'll agree.

Replacing the banks, however, is precisely what is all about. It's called peer-to-peer lending and it's their way of removing the banks from the system altogether. Sounds risky, and probably is in the short term, although ultimately it may even represent the way forwards – so long as sufficient people are prepared to take the plunge in the meantime.  

So what happens with is this; you produce your £13,500 and that buys you one brand new car that's worth around £15,000 at the RRP. They then find you an "end user" – a driver who's prepared to sign on the dotted line and lease your car for 36 months at £250 per month. 

They also vet the driver to make sure there are no skeletons in their closet, just as any bank would. They then fit the car with a GPS tracker so that your driver can't just disappear to Albania, never to be seen again. They also install it with pay-as-you-go technology so that if the monthly lease hire fee isn't paid, there's no go.

And even if your leased driver DOES do a runner, or fails to pay the rent that month, still guarantees to pay you in full in their absence, despite it being your car as far as the V5 and the DVLA are concerned. And at the end of 36 months they also guarantee to buy the car back from you for £8955. Which means you'll have generated 36 payments of £250 (£9000) plus a further £8995, giving a total of £17,995. For an investment of £13,500.

Am I interested? Yes, very. Am I a sucker for these things? Yes, every time. Will I be signing up? Almost certainly not. My better half has already made me promise, in fact, never to visit the website ever again.

No comments:

Post a Comment